Construction Safety:Companies Fined $190k For Death of Worker

construction safety

Cement Australia Pty Ltd (CAPL) and Cement Australia (Kandos) Pty Ltd (CA Kandos)have been ordered to pay out a total of $190,000 for the death of Colin David Fuller at the Kandos cement plant in September 2009. Fuller died after being crushed between two hydraulic rams, while he worked at the factory.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission found that CA Kandos and its parent company, CAPL,  breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, by not installing fixed guarding along the entire length of a feeder and conveyor system as required by Australian safety standards. They were also charged for failing to ensure adequate supervision and instruction to Mr Fuller.

In the evenining of September 13, 2009,Fuller was on duty as a central control assistant in the raw materials preparation area, a role  which required him to conduct checks on materials and equipment in the plant.

Fuller was working alone, and left unsupervised.

Mr Fuller the feedlines of  C2 feeder in the Stone Tunnels after another worker informed him that several hoppers were not feeding.

Although it is uncertain how Fuller was crushed, the court was told that he might have been attempting to remove a blockage manually while the system was still operating.

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Construction Safety: Union Delivers List of Demands Follow Worker Death

THE CFMEU has delivered a list of demands to the employers of a Canadian backpacker killed in an accident on a Sydney construction site earlier this month. Mathieu Lopez-Linares, 22, suffered fatal head and chest injuries when he was hit by metal beams during the demolition of a building in Camperdown, in inner Sydney, on April 13.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said Lopez-Linares was on a temporary working visa and was not paid any superannuation during the two weeks he worked at the site. It is demanding employers pay $225,000 to the Lopez-Linares family, an amount representative of the death benefit that would have been payable to his family had the company been paying his superannuation.

CFMEU NSW secretary Brian Parker said yesterday the union had raised concerns over safety at the Australia Street site two weeks before the accident. Mr Parker alleged that foreign workers on Ceerose sites were underpaid and did not receive full entitlements. The union is also demanding the alleged underpayments be paid.

A temporary truce has been reached between the union and Ceerose representatives, agreeing to further meetings this week. Unions have threatened further disruptions if the matter is not settled by Monday. A Ceerose spokesperson said the company was co-operating with the WorkCover investigation into the death.

The spokesperson said Ceerose was not the man’s direct employer and invoices for wages were provided to them by the parent company of One Stop Work Force, the labour hire company that employed Lopez-Linares. One Stop Work Force would not comment on the matter yesterday, citing the ongoing investigation. The union said the company was not present in yesterday’s negotiations. Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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Construction Safety: Workers Return To Work Site

Construction workers will recommence work at one of two work sites at Canberra Hospital, following safety disputes.

Numerous workers walked off the job amid concerns about a significant lack of safety representatives on-site.

The construction union, CFMEU, says workers were concerned about a lack of properly elected on-site safety representatives.

CFMEU ACT branch secretary Dean Hall says work has recommenced at the old maternity building site, and more talks are planned between the union and the Leightons company on Wednesday.

But Mr Hall says the issues with GE Shaw at the emergency department site are more complex.

“GE Shaw has raised concerns with us about the [ACT] Government procurement process and the fact that they believe that they have been forced into a situation that they have to engage sham contractors on the site because the actual contract doesn’t allow them to engage direct labour to perform construction,” he said.

“We want them to come with us to the Government to explain to them how they have been forced into this situation where they’ve had to use sham contractors.

“If they persist with using sham contractors then we were going to go out and take further industrial action because we’re not allowing workers to be ripped off in the workplace on the entitlements.”

Mr Hall says the union recommended the workers return to work on a temporary basis until further safety talks and discussions about the use of sham contracting can take place.

“The issue is under all employment law and workers compensation law and superannuation and the long service leave act, when you only supply your labour then you can only be an employee you can’t be a propriety limited company,” he said.

“That’s what’s commonly known as sham contracting.

“Employers engage workers that way to avoid paying them things like superannuation, long service leave, holiday pay and on the side of the worker the appropriate tax rates as well.

“It’s basically a sham or a contract to avoid paying a worker their lawful entitlements.”

Mr Hall says the GE Shaw emergency department site also had major fall protection issues including missing handrails and scaffolding.

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MBA Responds To Construction Safety Report

A Prominent building industry organisation has responded four months after scathing inquiry into the safety of Canberra’s construction sector.

The Master Builders Association (MBA) accepted a majority of the “Getting Home Safely” report’s 28 key recommendations, but it also made additional suggestions.

The association wants to introduce random drug and alcohol tests for workers in order to improve safety.

MBA organised a working group to reply to the report. Former director of the Australian War Memorial Steve Gower, will head the group.

Following months of considerations, Gower believes more can be done to improve Canberra’s workplace safety.

“If we are serious about safety in the workplace, as indeed we all should be, the time has arrived to have random testing of workers on the sites for impairment,” he said.

MBA ACT President Simon Butt cited drug and alcohol impairment as a continuous concern.

“The group felt that it was important,” he said.

“It is not a panacea, no particular element is a panacea to all of the problems that are going forward.

“But it is seen, and it has been around for a long time, and there has been some resistance from some industry players to actually bringing this on board.”

But ACT WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe says drug and alcohol impairment is not the pertinent issue.

“The report responded to four fatalities in Canberra in one year and a large number of series injuries,” he said.

“None of those that I’m aware of related to drug and alcohol issues.”

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Construction Safety: Collapsed Wall Hospitalises Two Workers

A collapsed wall at a Hawthorn building site has resulted in two men, both in their twenties, being hospitalised.

The men were doing construction on an apartment complex the morning the accident occurred said a spokeswoman for Worksafe Victoria, Rosanna Bonaccurso,

The men were evening out concrete on a wall when the rock supported by the wall fell onto them, she said.

“The rock has fallen off the wall onto them,” she said. “They were both transported to hospital.”

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade arrived at the scene and had to pry of the men out of the rubble using a crane.

Bonaccurso revealed Worksafe Victoria issued a prohibition notice on the site preventing any further work until an engineer has conducted a thorough investigation of the site.

Both men suffered minor injuries – one an injured hip, the other an injured wrist – and were taken to the Alfred Hospital.

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Construction Safety: Union Outraged Over Worker’s Death

The death of a 32-year old Tasmania Pole-driver has shocked the construction industry and union officials.

“Construction unions have been voicing very strong concerns about safety standards in construction for quite some time with very little response,” union boss Kevin Harkins said.

The victim was reportedly a subcontractor to the building firm building a new waste transfer station for the Hobart City Council at the McRobies Rd site.

The man died when a one-tonne steel beam fell as he was positioning it into a hole prior to driving it into the ground.

While positioning the beam, it swung through the air and struck the man in the head.

“”The webbing connecting the beam to the excavator then broke free, resulting in the beam falling on top of the man, and he sustained critical injuries” said Inspector Glen at the scene.

First Aid attempts were made by the man’s fellow colleagues, but he unfortunately died at the Royal Hobart Hospital soon after.

Workplace Standards will also be  investigating and compiling a report for the coroner.

Unions Tasmania says the loss of any life at work is completely unnecessary.

“The pain now faced by this man’s family, friends and work colleagues is immeasurable,” Mr Harkins said.

“I think the time has come for construction unions to play a far more proactive role in safety on worksites, and that’s what we are going to do,” he said.

“The time to rely on others to protect the safety of workers is over.”

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Construction Company Fined for Worker’s Death

A construction company tasked with upgrading roads, now faces a fine of $250,000 following the death of one of its workers.

The labourer was only on his second day on the the job with Coastal Asphalt and Civil Constructions and was laying asphalt when a three-tonne multi-wheeled roller ran over and crushed him. The incident in question occurred in January 2010 and was said to have been caused when the man was helping a vehicle operator clear asphalt stuck to the roller.

A preliminary investigation by WorkCover revealed that the Gosford company had failed to adequately train or supervise the labourer.

”This tragedy could have been avoided had there been the right instruction and the vehicle properly maintained,” the NSW Finance Minister, Greg Pearce, said on Thursday.

The worker was removing the asphalt from the roller by spraying it with diesel, when suddenly the brakes were accidentally released, causing the vehicle to roll forward and crush him.

”The incident could have been prevented if the roller’s built-in diesel spray unit had been working,” Mr Pearce said.

The company has pleaded guilty to a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and will pay a fine of $250,000 plus court costs.

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Construction Workers Awarded For Crane Fire Bravery

Three construction workers were awarded for their bravery after a crane was engulfed in flames and began to collapse inner Sydney last month.

Workers were cleared from the site and the road close-by was closed after the fire at the construction site at the University of Technology Sydney.

Glen May was operating the crane and  was fortunately able direct it away from busy streets  before the arm came crashing down.

Fellow employee, Nuno Nunes, helped guide May to safety while Gordon Cameron, the site’s construction union delegate, cleared the area of all civilians and workers.

The men received their awards at  the inaugural Joes Owens Bravery Award at Sydney Trades Hall.

New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson presented the awards.

“Today is a significant day because we acknowledge three heroes of the building industry,” Mr Robertson said.

The three men were humble in the receiving of their awards and are reluctant to be referred to as ‘heroes’

“I would do the same again. I’ve worked with Glen for a while and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him,” Mr Nunes said.

The WorkCover Authority of NSW continues to  investigate the incident.

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Vic Premier :Mirvac Unsuitable For Construction Safety Probe

THE push for an independent inquiry into soaring construction costs in Australia was in danger of collapsing last night over Labor’s insistence that it be run by the chairman of one the country’s biggest property developers.

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu recently denounced Tasmania’s bid for Mirvac chairman James MacKenzie to head up the construction industry panel.

In a letter to Tasmania’s Premier Lara Giddings, Baillieu commented on the inappropriateness of appointing a panel or chair members who lacked experience independent of the government or industry, no would it be appropriate for one who had already stated a position on the inquiry.

Baillieu flatly rejected such an appointment.

The letter was in response to Giddings’ writing to all the states and stating that the battle over MacKenzie raised questions considered  into construction costs, since she believed some states were prioritizing politics over the merits of the inquiry.

Giddings criticized Mackenzie opponents for allegedly holding up the inquiry since COAG had previously agreed that a panel would be organized by the middle of next year.

“If states continue to put apparent considerations of personality and partisanship ahead of the merits of a review, then it is questionable as to whether such a review should proceed at all,” she wrote.

Tasmania is one of the two remaining Labor states which has lead to Victoria alleging that MacKenzie was a “put-up job” by the Prime Minister to stifle any investigating into construction costs.

Gillard’s office declined any comment and MacKenzie has not been included in any public discourse.

Mr MacKenzie is one of the nation’s most prominent  industry leaders and is a former head of a Victorian workplace insurance scheme under the previous state Labour Government.

He also has been a highly visible critic of Baillieu government intention to strip  $500 million from Victoria’s WorkCover Authority.

Ms Giddings commented on the opposition to MacKenzie stating, “Such behaviour has resulted in four months of delay to the process and is therefore at odds with the arguments made regarding the urgent importance of this review,” she said.

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Workers Protest over Suspicious Dismissal of Two Fellow Employees

 Numerous construction workers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital have taken a stance against the firing of two workers they believe were punished for raising health and safety concerns.

The protestors walked to the offices in North Terrace of the HYLC joint venture group. The project their working on is meant to be a hospital for the SA Government.

Union rep Darren Roberts said the protest was in response to two workers on probation who were dismissed without explanation.

HYLC stated it was proud of its safety record and management had an open-door policy with workers.

The hospital is to be erected at the western end of North Terrace. It will replace the old RAH at the eastern end of the city

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Construction Safety: AcetewAGL Would “Rather a Disgruntled Customer than Dead Worker”

construction safety trainingActewAGL boss Michael Costello says he would rather have a disgruntled customer than a dead worker and Canberra’s construction industry risks falling prey to unrealistic deadlines and cost-cutting which directly impacts on workplace safety.

In a submission to the ACT government’s workplace safety inquiry, Actew AGL and ACTEW Corporation have both called for tender processes to be reformed to include weight given to a contractor’s workplace health and safety record, equal to that of the cost and schedule.

Mr Costello said the tender process needed to reward companies which built workplace safety into their bottom line, not penalise them in a highly competitive marketplace.

As head of ActewAGL, which maintains and supplies the ACT’s electricity and gas supply, Mr Costello said he was obsessed with mitigating the risk of such dangerous industries to his 900-strong workforce – 350 of whom worked in the field.

In 1999 Actew lost electrical linesman Gary Waters, who was electrocuted on a Hughes substation, having spent 11 years with the company and in 2001 another ActewAGL worker fell seven metres off a ladder while connecting power to a building site in Braddon.

Both incidents still resonated with company management to this day, Mr Costello said.

He believed it was timely for the government to call an inquiry – due to report on Friday – not only because of the four recent workplace deaths but because safety culture needed to evolve constantly in order to prevent complacency from setting in.

“Safety is not a static thing. It is not a case of ‘I’ve done it, I’ve got a safe workplace’. You’re dealing with humans and one of the biggest problems we have is you get complacent, you get bored, you cut corners.”

Since his appointment as chief executive of the part-government-owned utility in 2008, Mr Costello instigated a “root and branch” review of safety systems undertaken by Deloittes. He also hired a specialist director of Environment, Health, Safety and Quality, Dianne King – who holds a Masters of Occupational Health and Safety and has a background is in Defence.

Mr Costello said he was acutely aware of the innate dangers of a workplace in electricity and gas supply – “which is both dangerous to the workers and to the community”.

Mr Costello said ActewAGL was incorporating many new strategies into ongoing safety improvements which included paying cash incentives to workers who reported “near misses” so they could be analysed. He also made a point to meet personally with every worker who suffered an injury requiring them to take time off work to discuss better ways of managing risk. In the last year, three workers lost a day’s work and one lost more than five days following an injury.

While Mr Costello said his preoccupation with workplace safety kept him up at night, he also believed improved safety meant better business.

Commissioner Mark McCabe said ActewAGL and ACTEW Water had “relatively good safety records” and he accepted the Cotter Dam Enlargement was a huge and complex site.

“I am pleased to see that a number of issues we identified on site earlier in the year have been resolved.”

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Construction Safety: WorkSafe Stops Concrete Pours at Work Site

Safety Watchdog, WorkSafe, has stepped in to halt a  concrete pour on a large Canberra construction site. This comes soon after WorkSafe cautioned that the industry was disregarding safety laws.

WorkSafe ACT stopped the pour at the  Lyons apartment construction project after workers cited concerns that they were put in danger.

It is believed that contractor indicated that a deck for the pour was ready, however, numerous tradesmen were still doing work on it even though the pour was being readied.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said  After discovering several problems, his inspectors called for the pour to be  stopped. Of the most serious issues, was that work was signed of as completed even though it had not been.

Three concrete trucks were turned away.

The incident follows a meeting between WorkSafe ACT and concrete companies last week, in which the companies expressed concerns that some building firms were pressuring them go ahead with pours in unsafe circumstances.

McCabe said pours were too dangerous to skimp on safety.

“There have been a number of significant incidents in the ACT recently that have involved dangerous concrete pours. This kind of risk taking is just unacceptable.”

Ben Catanzariti was killed during a pouring accident in July this year at a Kingston Foreshore site, which also injured two other workers.

Mr McCabe described concrete pours last week as one of the construction industry’s most dangerous activities.

He said he was concerned that developers were forcing workers to ignore safety precautions so as to lower costs.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s ACT secretary, Dean Hall, said workers on the site called the union on Thursday morning because they feared for their safety.

“They were concerned that they were under pressure to work in an exclusion zone, and they could see the concrete trucks rolling up and getting set up to pour. That should never have happened.”

He said the union was firmly behind WorkSafe ACT’s crackdown on the industry.

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Construction Safety: Neglected Safety Issues At Concrete Pours

Concerns over surging budgets and prolonged delays are pushing construction companies to neglect safety measures related to concrete pours, according to a safety watchdog.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe, regards concrete pours as a major “pressure point” in the ACT industry, and subsequently one of the most hazardous activities in construction.

McCabe is joining the government inquiry panel that will be investigating suspected malpractice in the industry. The inquiry was ordered following 4 workplace deaths on ACT construction sites in under a year.

The inquiry is expected to conclude later this month, but McCabe believes that pressures to reduce costs were compelling workers to neglect safety problems in various areas of the job (i.e concrete pours).

A pour was halted half-way at Empire Building Group’s construction site in Harrison, after significant safety breaches were discovered throughout the access area. As a result, truckloads of concrete were directed away from the site—a move which is expected to be costly for the company.

McCabe identified aspects that contributed to the dangerous nature of concrete pours; namely the backed up waiting lists for concreting contractors (which is said to have been caused by the rapid growth of ACT’s construction industry and subsequently made any delays unappealing).

McCabe revealed that any delays on concreting can result in tens of thousands of dollars per day (of delay).

The company is working desperately on the safety issues at the worksite in Harrison. WorkSafe ACT will resume investigations at the site.

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Construction Safety: Crane Protests Avoidable

construction safety trainingAn 800-person rally at a new Perth children’s hospital site might have been eluded if the building contractor had publicized the results of a safety test, the construction union says.Workers at the Nedlands site put their tools down on Friday after the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union claimed contractor John Holland backed out on a verbal agreement to obtain an independent engineer’s review into a near-fatal crane accident last Tuesday.

The accident was reportedly caused by a fitting failure on a tower crane that brought down a two-tonne block and 50m of rope that almost landed on workers.The CFMEU said Holland agreed to share safety information relating to the crane but went back on his agreement, which resulted in the strike.

Fair Work Australia became involved and ordered an stop to industrial action until the issue was settled.Despite Holland’s promises to contract an independant engineer to conduct the report, Holland has allegedly conducted their own tests on the crane and did not share the information.

“If they had stuck to their verbal agreement, none of this (action) would need to have happened,” the CFMEU said in a statement.

“The incident which caused the dispute was immediately reported to the relevant workplace safety authorities and we continue to fully co-operate with authorities in their ongoing investigations,“ John Holland group managing director Glenn Palin Palin said.

The site has been granted  permission to continue work.

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Construction Safety Incident Leaves Apprentice Seriously Injured

A 20-year old Canberra apprentice is fighting to survive after a workplace accident at the old bus depot in Phillip.

The apprentice electrician has reportedly suffered serious head injuries after he received electric shock  causing him to fall five metres from a ladder. 
He was working for a contractor on behalf of the ACT government to perform maintenance on the site.
Since the accident, the worker has undergone two surgical procedures at a Canberra Hospital. WorkSafe are currently inquiring about the incident.
Interestingly, the accident occurred the same day as approximately 600 construction workers marched on the Legislative Assembly in protest of the territory’s recent work safety record which has seen four workplace deaths in the state in less than a year. 

Officials from the apprentice’s union are angry over longstanding concerns of declining safety records.Electrical Trades Union official Mick Koppie believes that WorkSafe is being worked above its capacity. Koppie believes the safety regime is overstretched and

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher believes the incident highlights the need for a reform of workplace safety laws or at least rigorously enforced.ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said the incident displayed a need for vigilance on the sides of both workers and employers.

”I am saddened to learn of the incident that occurred [on Tuesday] and it proves that dangers lurk in every workplace,” Mr McCabe said.

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Union Shuts Down Cotter Dam Amid Construction Safety Concerns

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Workers have set up a blockade effectively halting work at Canberra’s Cotter Dam construction site.Construction union, CFMEU formed the blockade at approximately 5:00am citing endless safety concerns. Workers are also reportedly upset over the liquidation of a contractor which operates three cranes at the Cotter Dam worksite.

CFMEU ACT branch secretary Dean Hall stated that police have been present in the area and are threatening to tow away cars that stop at the site. Hall attributes this behavior to the police desiring them to clear out the blockade.  The union however, has made it clear that they have no intention of clearing the blockade until they are confident in the response they get from their employees regarding entitlements and safety of the workers.  Only once the cranes are certified as safe and workers entitlements are paid, will workers allow work to commence on the site.

CTEW Water managing director Mark Sulliva has rejected assertions that  there are ongoing safety problems at the site.

“We haven’t seen any specific issues of safety raised and certainly we’ve had regular reviews by Worksafe and Comcare,” he said..

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher stated that she is confident in how construction on the  dam is being managed . Gallagher said that she understood the union’s position but believes that other methods of resolving issues must be considered to continue work on the site.  The latest delay is yet another problem to hit the project , which has been plagued by wet weather since 2010.

It was due to be completed this month, and its budget has blown out to more than $400 million.

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Construction Safety: Fallen Worker May Receive Memorial

construction safety trainingThere are currently discussions regarding the potential installation of a memorial for a construction worker who was killed last week. Ben Catanzariti, a concreter, was working on a construction site for new Dockside apartments when a 39m boom struck and killed him. Drew Mathias, director of construction management firm Bloc, confirmed reports of discussions pertaining to the installation of a memorial at the new apartments.

Mathias said that they support the concept but do not want to push the family on any matters and will await their decision.Belconnen Concrete, Catzanzariti’s employer, said that they were “deeply saddened” by the loss of the young concreter and the injuries of two fellow workers.Operations manager for the company, Andrew Spinelli stated that the relevant pump had been thoroughly serviced three weeks prior to the incident and had only been in use for a total of 10 hours since the last service.

Belconnen Concrete is reportedly committed to providing full co-operation with WorkSafe ACT and the Federal Police.  The company swiftly provided all information and documentation requested by the investigative bodies. The company is reportedly also conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Belconnen was initially prohibited from using its fleet of concrete pumps following the incident but have since been cleared for operation by WorkSafe.

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Gov’t Launches Audit into Construction Industry Safety

Construction safety trainingDuring a discussion regarding an major industry-wide investigation, Attorney-General Simon Corbell stated that an exorbitant number of companies are neglecting the safety of their employees on Canberra construction for increased profits.

Corbell announced the planned investigation following the fourth workplace death in Canberra since December.  Three of the past incidents took place within the civil and construction industry, while the fourth one involved a painter.

Corbell called for an close examination into why the civil and construction sector seems to have uninterested in complying with the government on workplace safety.

Most recently, Ben Catanzariti, a young Kingston Foreshore construction worker, was killed when struck by a 39 metre boom.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said that the site has remained closed but did not reveal an open date.

Corbell said an inquiry into the death would likely fall under Work Health and Safety laws and a thorough investigation is needed to gather all the evidence and testimonies.

McCabe is believed to be one of two panel members selected to conduct the inquiry. Corbell believes the investigation would call for submissions, union officials and OHS experts but not a public hearing. Instead it appears that only the report and recommendations will be revealed. The investigation is expected to take up to four months to complete.

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Construction Industry Safety Breaches Cost $17 million

construction safety issuesStudies have shown that the construction industry was struck by a $17 million in medical bills, lost wages and further costs due to over 1,000 on-the-job accidents. WorkSafe Australia stated that that figure could even be a conservative estimate. WorkSafe inspector Steve Thornely said that workers can face a continual and diverse variety of hazards due to housing sites constantly having different trades on site throughout a project’s development. Thornely stated that in excess of 1,250 safety breaches have been discovered throughout the year.

Thornely attributes theses breaches to inadequate planning, housekeeping and supervision. He stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance in every aspect of the job in ensuring that safety is upheld.  He added that many of the accidents or breaches that occur could be easily avoided if industry professionals stayed on top of safety issues and be vocal about unsafe situations.

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Highway Work Delayed Due To Construction Safety Issues

construction safety trainingConstruction work at the Monaro Highway duplication in Fyshwick has been halted after the construction union visited the site and raised various safety concerns.

Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union official Brett Harrison arrived at the site where he proceeded to examine potential safety breaches and ensuring that contractors were working to rectify any problems. Harrison cited issues with protection on each side of the bridge, scaffolding, and handrails.The union is concerned that these dangers put passing motorists at risk.

WorkSafe ACT has allegedly visited the site on two occasions and found no problems. Senior project manager Ben Helmers stated that the issues cited by the CFMEU were fixed immediately.Helmers said there were no serious risks but in the interest of all parties, they fixed whatever issues were cited.He said all of the issues relate to general maintenance and the company does frequent inspections to make sure that safety standards are maintained.

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Man Dies in Construction Safety Accident

A worker died at a Canberra constructed site when his truck struck overhead power-lines .The man was employed by Kenoss Contractors when the incident occurred which left him lying on the ground beside his vehicle.

The Canberra site and a Molongo site were recently closed down by WorkSafe ACT.The matter is expected to be referred to the coroner, according to WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe. The police are also allegedly investigating the incident.McCabe said the two work sites will be closed for an undetermined amount of time.The sites will be deemed unsafe until the contractor has ensured that steps have been taken to rectify the issues.

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Construction Safety: Parliament Debates Over Construction and Building Bill

construction safety trainingCurrently a new building and construction law is being debated before Federal Parliament. The bill  entitled The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment Bill 2011, will effectively replace the  Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) with the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

The bill will also obtain information or documents relevant to investigations and it will be on a compulsory basis.

Federal Independent MP Bob Katter has taken issue with the bill over the coercive power provisions withi it. He stated in parliament that he would like to see amendments to remove such requirements and reinstate the right to silence.

He offered support to a various aspects of the bill and stated that the exciting laws brought in by the Howard Government were difficult for workers to complain about.

The Australian Greens have also taken issue with the coercive aspects of the bill.

The ALP claims that certain safeguards within the bill, such as the right to representation and the right to refuse to give information, will ensure that people are not taken advantage of. The coercive powers are subject to a 3-year sunset clause.

The Opposition is in favour of retaining the ABCC.

The bill will appear before the Senate on Feb.29.

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Construction Safety: Company Fined 60k for Paraplegic

construction safety trainingA magistrate has granted a small building company six years to pay off a fine it received following an incident that resulted in a 27-year-worker becoming paraplegic. The worker reportedly fell four metres at Keysborough in Melbourne in June 2010.

The company was charged for breaching section 21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. It has been reported that the company neglected to ensure a safe working environment by failing to provide a safe system of work for installing roof trusses.

The company pleaded guilty to the charges and subsequently received a fine of $60,000 and ordered to pay court costs of approximately $2894.

Workers for the company were replacing a burnt-out roof of a house when it started to rain which compelled them to rush to make the house weatherproof. The fallen worker’s supervisor said to WorkSafe investigators that he had observed the injured man climb onto the frame of the house prior to his falling.

Despite knowing that the act was risky, he did not tell the worker to immediately come down, believing that he was capable of standing there and lifting one truss. Eventually the man lost his grip on the truss, slipped of the wet roof and fell down an unprotected stairwell void.  The worker suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs, a fractured wrist and serious cuts to the head. He also suffered three broken vertebrae and is unfortunately, unlikely to ever walk again.

WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, stated that a monthly payment of $850 to meet the total $60k fine would stand as a constant reminder to the company to uphold the company’s safety standards.

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“Dumbed Down” Safety at Construction Sites

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Recently, a safety and risk assessment consultant that was contracted following the Beaconsfield Mine incident says construction safety on Canberra sites is being “dumbed down” and over-regulated.  Rob Long, previously worked for the ACT government and various safety organisations before becoming a consultant. He believes that regulatory bodies such as WorkSafe and the CFMEU have a lack of focus on cultural change which is impeding on their efforts to tackle unsafe work sites.

Long said that after all the comments regarding safety incidents last year in Caberra, there is little discussion of safety culture. Long is in disbelief that the Cotter Dam project can receive 21 provisional improvement notices and yet there is no discussion of safety culture. Long is convinced that the twenty-one improvement notices are not evidence of problems with the system but rather, an attitudinal problems—safety cultural problems

Mine manager Matthew McGill stated that Dr.Long assisted him in understanding that human characteristics and attitudes could potentially influence the culture especially if they are volatile and inconsistent.

Master Builders Association ACT deputy executive director Jerry Howard gave his support to Dr.Long’s attempts to improve communication on worksites. Howard believes the solution is not simply paperwork, since that only shifted the blame.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union ACT branch secretary Dean Hall stated that the union appreciates any efforts to stop deaths on worksites.

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Construction Union Claims Contractors Are Not Reporting Injuries

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The construction union claims that half of the construction safety incidents that occur on Canberra work sites are not being reported properly.The 2011 workplace safety legislation, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires employers to report all injuries incurred at work as well as near-misses.

Dean Hall of the CFMEU stated that a lack of reporting of incidents is a continuous problem, especially in the civil construction sector.Hall believes the issue is extremely concerning, as he believes approximately half of the injuries in the construction industry are inefficiently reported or not reported at all.

In December 2011, a 43-year-old worker suffered serious spinal injuries after a roller he was driving roller over at a housing development.The CFMEU believe the incident was not effectively reported, thus the union is calling on the ACT work safety commission to apply charges against the contractor responsible.

The company allegedly reported an incident involving a roller but did not indicate that any injuries occurred.

Hall believes the industry is presently plagued by dodgy contractors. He stated that the contractors are likely performing irresponsibly on numerous levels with a lack of safety system or protection for workers in the workplace. Thus, Hall believes that businesses fail to report accidents or serious injuries because if WorkSafe inspectors investigate an incident they may find other serious problems in the safety infrastructure of the work sites.


Construction Safety: Crane Crashes Down Metres Away From Workers

Construction Safety TrainingAnother accident has occurred at a site that union bosses have declared as a “tragedy waiting to happen”.  This time a 40-tonne crane collapsed to the ground, mere metres away from construction workers who were working on the $50 million Mt. Sheridan Plaza redevelopment project.

This is not the first time Workplace Health and Safety officers have had to investigate a construction safety incident occurring at this site. A man was hospitalized in June 2011, when a concrete slab fell upon him.Fortunately, no one was injured when the crane crashed to the ground, but workers have halted the operation of tools until inspectors have granted an all-clear to primary contractors, Broad Construction.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Stuary Traill stated that the site was the worst he had seen during his tenure as a union officials, and workers were growing extremely impatient with the poor safety standards of the site.

Traill said that an audit on the site that took place prior to Christmas, indicated that serious breaches of safety legislation. were present . Traill continued, stating that it seems as if Broad Construction only takes safety issues seriously when an incident occurs and investigators show up.Criticism has arisen of the company “cutting corners” to get the job done quickly.

Broad Queensland’s general manager John McCann stated that an “exclusion zone” was organized through the crane and workers were now able to return to the site.

Traill however, has criticised the company for the length of time it took for them to close the site when the crane fell. He stated that the workers were told to keep working around the fallen crane, despite safety concerns. He said that workers will continue to work there despite their construction safety concerns because they need the work.


Inspectors Launch Information Campaign for Workers

Inspectors from the federal workplace authority will be out in force on Canberra’s building sites on Tuesday.

Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) says its industry inspectors will visit sites as part of its ”proactive, educational service to the industry”.

Canberra’s construction sector has been in the spotlight for several months, with an ACT government inquiry into safety in the industry finding a ”distressing safety record” of four deaths and many injuries since December last year, and making 28 recommendations for change.

The report’s first recommendation was for the ACT government to collaborate with Fair Work Australia to crack down on ”sham contracting”, the employment of workers on contractor’s terms, on Canberra’s building sites.

But the agency said site visits were routine and were not prompted by the report of the ACT work safety commissioner Mark McCabe and the former public service commissioner Lynelle Briggs.

The chief executive of FWBC Leigh Johns said on Monday the inspectors would be talking to workers about laws, wages and entitlements.

”We investigate and, if necessary, prosecute breaches of workplace laws, recover wages and entitlements for workers who have been underpaid, and provide education and advice,” Mr Johns said.

”This week’s site visits are really about our inspectors discussing with employers and workers about how to comply with workplace relations law and making sure their sites are fair and productive.

”We understand that not everyone has a lawyer or [human resources] manager on site to provide advice on complying with the law, so we proactively visit sites to help people understand the law and provide answers to any questions they may have.”

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Construction Safety :WorkSafe Data Names Construction Industry As Most Dangerous

construction safety trainingAccording to injury claim data for registered workplaces; more people suffer from injuries in the Port Philip construction industry than any other. Administrative and Support services have beat out the manufacturing industry to capture second place for WorkSafe’s injury claims.

According to the data collected by WorkSafe, 850 workers in the Port Philip construction industry, filed Construction Safety injury claims throughout the last five fiscal years. The cost of these claims have exceeded $17 million.

The data also showed that A&S services industry had 672 injury claims at a cost of $13.8 million. The release of this data comes after the launch of WorkSafe’s campaign “Homecomings”. The aim of the campaign is to keep workers informed and diligent in that matters of occupational health and safety and the effects an injury can have on a family.

Sadly, approximately twenty five people will not be home for Christmas this year as a result of Occupational Health and Safety injuries.

Rehabilitation  throughout the industries is said to cost $110 million dollarso over the next five years.

Victoria, thus far has been home to majority of this year’s workplace injury claims. Christmas time is a high pressure, but WorkSafe urges citizens to remain committed to ensuring the safety of others.


Construction Safety Training For A Deadly Work Sector

The Construction industry is considered to be one of the most dangerous work sectors to be in. In Australia, the average number of construction-related deaths is about 10 per 100,000 people.  According to a study in 2006, construction industry workers experienced approximately 86 injuries per 1000 workers.

This number is nearly 25% higher than the national average for injuries for all workers in Australia*.Between 2005-06, there was approximately 877 000 workers in the construction industry and approximately 75,700 of these workers experienced a work-related injury. The most common injuries that occur are sprains, and cuts (abrasions).

Construction Related Injuries Are Often The Result…

..of inadequate training, unsuitable work practices, carelessness, and inattentiveness.

You or your employees are considered high risk when commencing a new job. For example, if you were a new contractor to a construction site, you will initially need to familiarize yourself with your new work environment.  You might also be required to learn the site procedures and the proper tasks that need to be done. Often times, new employees are not privy to the various hazards their workplace possesses.

It is important to note that accidents in the construction industry do not only occur to those who are new to the job. For example last week a respected foreman in his 60s, died from a collapsing piece of apparatus. This did not occur because the man was inexperienced—in fact he had ample experience– this occurred  because construction safety regulations were not tight enough or properly implemented.

Ensuring that your employees are efficiently trained, will benefit both you and your employee, and will ensure that work is done quickly, and more effectively.

Construction safety can be comprised of various elements that include (but not limited to), basic construction safety training, construction safety fundamentals, and managing hazards and risks.Working in the construction industry, one can be exposed to hazardous materials such as wet cement products. Cement dermatitis and burns are caused by cement’s abrasive nature.

Regardless of your experience,, one accident can radically change your life and the lives of those around you.  Safety should always be a priority– from the time the idea is conceived until the last brick is laid.With the proper training accidents can be prevented. One must be diligent and ensure that safety is not neglected. One slip, one fall, could ultimately result in a career stall. Make every day a safe work day.

Construction safety  is not simply about keeping the workers safe, but also the public at large.


Foreman’s Death Causes Work-site Walk-off

Construction Safety TrainingWorkers sauntered off the job at 20 worksites throughout the southeast in an emotional response to a construction safety– death of a foreman this week.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union workplace health and safety co-ordinator ,Andrew Ramsay stated that union members at several sites throughout the area have decided on a motion to walk off their jobs in disapproval of the construction-related death.

Walk-offs are due to be held at sites right through the state following the death of the 65-year-old foreman.

The well-respected foreman died when a piece of heavy machinery fell on him and killed him. The death was the 12th workplace related death at Queensland construction sites this year. Last year there were eight incidents. This is the second of two similar incidents this month.

Towards the end of September, a worker died after he was smacked in the head by a plunging beam while working at the Airport link project.

Mr Ramsay said workers’ determination to take a day off after a work-related death to present respect
for the deceased had been a merger practice for years but had happened rarely in recent memory.
The practice had been now been revived, because workers feel as if they have been pushed to their limits. They are fed up. Workers were allegedly very upset over the foreman’s death since he had worked with them for many years and had been very respected.

Mr. Ramsay said the foreman was going to retire this Christmas.

The incident continues to be investigated.


Falling Machinery Takes Foreman’s Life

construction safety trainingA senior foreman has died at a constructions site located at the University of Queensland. The worker died when he was struck by a piece of machinery.

The Workplace health and Safety co-ordinator from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union ,Andrew Ramsay, claims the man was struck by a formwork shutter when workers were attempting to lift the piece of machinery by crane.

Allegedly, a lifting point broke on the shutter which caused the part to swing and fatally struck the worker. The police have stated that that the man was dead upon arrival, despite attempts to revive him through CPR.

Work has been temporarily halted at the construction site while the workers are receiving counseling  from the CFMEU’s Mates in Construction service.

This is the 12th fatal incident in Queensland this year that was construction related. Last year, there were only 8 incidents. Ramsay has called for safety walks from  workplace health and safety inspectors into the site.Investigations continue to determine the cause of the man’s death.


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Construction Safety Concerns at Dam

construction safety trainingConstruction on an important part of the Cotter Dam project has been halted following construction safety concerns. WorkSafe called for the emergency stop upon finding safety concerns with the construction workers for the dam wall.

WorkSafe stated that inspectors would investigate the site to determine if work could continue safely.WorkSafe prohibited concrete placement on the right-side of the dam all until they are satisfied that there is no longer a safety risk.

The Cotter Dam project is a $363 million project that has so far remained within budget regardless of a set of delays and obstacles it has been subjected to.

WorkSafe has ordered the site to improve in areas such as scaffolding, formwork, and other things. Most recently, WorkSafe had ordered the closure of a Fyshwick building after independent tests revealed that there was asbestos in the factor floors.



Worker Dies in Construction Safety Accident

Construction Safety TrainingA fatality involving a crane operator has occurred at a Karratha construction site. The man was a worker at Pelago West Apartments when he succumbed to his accident. He was allegedly crushed by a large piece of concrete that apparently fell off of a crane.

Interviews will be conducted by WorkSafe West Australia, as the investigation into the cause continues. The executive director from WorkSafe WA stated that the construction safety death was a tragedy

An organizer from Australia’s Worker’s Union has implored the government to increase its levels of safety inspections.This incident occurred after the recent  crane related death of a young contractor  and the injuries of a middle aged contractor

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